Yesterday, the founder of Mutant Ape Planet NFT collection was arrested and charged for an alleged $2.9 million rug pull. Another one bites the dust! The US Department of Justice (DoJ) arrested the 24-year-old developer at JFK airport in New York City. Here’s what you should know:
The Mutant Ape Planet NFT Rug Pull
Aurelien Michel, the developer of the Ethereum NFT collection Mutant Ape Planet, was arrested on January 5, 2022. The US DoJ charged Michel for allegedly defrauding purchasers of more than $2.9 million in cryptocurrency. Further, the Mutant Ape criminal complaint filed by the DoJ stated that Michel, along with others, marketed the Mutant Ape Planet NFT collection. In addition, they made fake promises and told the purchasers that if they held the NFT, they would be granted access to several benefits. This included rewards, raffles, exclusive cryptocurrency assets, and support from the community wallet. They also made the promise of buying metaverse land for the NFT project, which never happened.
Furthermore, the Mutant Ape Planet NFT holders were rug pulled after the collection sold out. A rug pull occurs when creators of an NFT project attract buyers and promise benefits. They then abandon the project, leaving the NFT worthless with unfulfilled promises. After the Mutant Ape Planet NFTs were all sold, Michel and other defendants allegedly transferred $3 million worth of funds to other wallets. Michel was in control of one of the wallets.
Details of the Investigation
The US Department of Justice (DoJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were the ones who announced the charges.
Mutant Ape Planet NFT purchasers first became suspicious when they saw the transfers of funds, authorities said. Additionally, Michel admitted to the rug pull in the project’s Discord server using the pseudonym “james.” To be more specific, Michel stated on the server, “We never intended to run, but the community became far too toxic. I recognize that our behavior led to this…”
Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)’s Criminal Investigation team, commented on this case with the following statement:
“It’s alleged that Michel defrauded investors by making false representations of, amongst other things, giveaways, tokens with staking features, and merchandise collections. Once the NFTs were sold-out, Michel allegedly ceased communications and withdrew purchasers’ funds from the company’s cryptocurrency wallets, lining his pockets with nearly $3 Million of investors’ money,” stated IRS-CI Fattorusso. “Michel can no longer blame the NFT community for his criminal behavior. His arrest means he will now face the consequences of his own actions.
Other Rug Pulls the Founder Allegedly Took Part In
If you thought that was crazy, just wait, because it doesn’t end there. ZachXBT, the crypto detective, shed some light on another rug pull that Michel is alledgedly a part of. ZachXBT tweeted that Michel is also the co-founder of Crazy Camel Club, another rug pull. They managed to run off with $1.6 million of investor funds. In another case, ZachXBT also tweeted that Michel is likely part of, yet another rug pull where he received $123k from the mint. To clarify, this was a $1.1 million rug pull titled Fashion Ape NFT.
Aurelien the founder charged today by the DOJ in the $2.9m rug pull of Mutant Ape Planet also happens to be the co-founder of another $1.6m rug pull I did a thread on called Crazy Camel Club (attached below) https://t.co/Gpb3LVkRXX pic.twitter.com/J7yCxNZwXW
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) January 5, 2023